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‘The Fall’s’ impressive ratings are a heartening sign that TV audiences still have an appetite for challenging, complex crime dramas as well as for ‘New Tricks’ and ‘Midsomer Murders’. Gillian Anderson is all poise and control as Stella, pulling together her ramshackle investigation team; but so too is Paul Spector, grooming his next unsuspecting target before stumbling upon a promising new centre of operations. But what bearing will the death of Olson have, as the tendrils of police corruption spread further and wider?
These mysteries are appealing, although what impresses above all is the attention to detail in Allan Cubitt’s screenplay. Everyone gets a backstory, from killer to investigator to neighbour to potential and actual victim. Sectarian tensions rumble menacingly in the background without ever drowning out the story. Seldom-discussed elements of policework are also absorbingly addressed: after shining a light on a 999 switchboard operator last week, tonight sees wranglings over what to call the investigation (Genesis? Eden? Alamo?).
But while Stella enjoys a couple more low-level Eureka moments, we’re starting to suspect that Spector will prove his own worst enemy, and that he alienates his children at his peril.